18/11/2014 10:02 GMT | Updated 18/01/2015 05:59 GMT

Digital Skills - Taking It One Town at a Time

It's a widely held belief that the UK's small businesses are the lifeblood of our economy.

With 99.9% of all UK private sector businesses classified as SMEs and a collective turnover of £3.3 billion, they're an economic force to be reckoned with.

It's time we gave them the attention they deserve.

Despite economic growth over the last year, many small businesses aren't feeling the benefits of our recovering economy.

We recently carried out some research that found that UK SMEs are currently missing out on a possible £3.8billion in revenue - simply because they're not fully utilising tech!

Business and government need to work together to bridge the divide between the power that technology has to grow a business, and they way SMEs are harnessing that power.

With this in mind, in September we launched a free, online learning portal to give SMEs pointers and advice about how they can effectively use digital to improve their businesses.

But this wasn't enough - we also wanted to bring these business leaders together to share ideas and think creatively about finding solutions to their business challenges. Thus, the "Big Digital Skills Tour" hit the road.

Touring major cities across the UK, we held workshops for SMEs to get together and discuss the difficulties they face in their industries, how best to achieve their business goals, and learn new digital skills.

We were really inspired by the ideas and originality that we saw and the determination these businesses have to learn, adapt, and succeed.

We found most businesses shared the same frustrations; budget restrictions, engaging with customers and standing out in a crowded marketplace, were all identified as barriers to business growth.

Overcoming these barriers was a simple matter of identifying the assets the business already had (people, skills, equipment etc) and using the right digital platform to leverage this further.

Whether it's attracting new customers, engaging existing customers, or sharing ways to build brand awareness, having the right technology and skills is essential.

Technology needs to be seen as an investment and one that can drive innovation. It can also help build a business that is dynamic and able to adapt to market needs.

Digital technologies present businesses large and small with the opportunity to shine. We need to work together to build a digitally skilled workforce to sustain growth and innovation.